The influence of Exisulind on the viability and apoptosis of CD34(+) stem cells from patients with advanced myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)/MDS was investigated. In eight out of 10 patient samples Exisulind reduced the fraction of viable cells by inducing apoptosis. We found evidence that Exisulind-mediated apoptosis depends on c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase (JNK) activation. Addition of a specific JNK-inhibitor to Exisulind-treated advanced MDS and AML/MDS cells partly abrogated apoptosis. We propose that Exisulind is tested in clinical phase I/II trials for the treatment of advanced MDS and AML/MDS.